The Clarkfield City Council approved a motion to accept applications for the currently vacant position of mayor. Former Mayor Jeff Lobdell resigned on September 19 after several high ranking city employees filed employee grievances against him. City Administrator Amanda Luepke informed the council that the city could not hold a special election to replace Lobdell, since he had already been in office too long. Instead, city residents will have the opportunity to submit their names to the council for consideration.

Residents will have until October 17 to submit their application to the council. Council members will then make their decision that same day during the regularly scheduled council meeting. The Mayor-elect would then be sworn-in during the first council meeting of November.

All of this comes on the heels of several months of conflict within the city government. During the previous meeting, members discussed the possibility of outside mediation to help stabilize the situation. At the time of publication, it is not clear who within the community is intending to submit their names, however, resolving the current mess will undoubtedly be a top priority for the new mayor.

In other news:

The council listened to Care Center Executive Director Shari McNamara as she updated the council on the previous month at the facility. She stressed that the center largely met its budget targets for the month of September, and that is has been able to put some money back into reserve accounts. The center is currently at 88% capacity, higher than expected, which help explains the strengthening financial outlook.

The council voted to approve an application by the care center to participate in the Equitable-Cost Sharing for Publicly Owned Nursing Facility (ECPN) program. The program will help bring in an estimated $113,000 in additional revenue in 2018. ECPN, which is administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, is a state program that reimburses municipally owned nursing homes in the form of subsidies. The care center has used these funds in the past, and Director McNamara is confident that they will benefit from it again this upcoming year.

The council listened to an update from the School Task Force, which is assessing the future use of the old high school. Council members Sue Fritz and Dale Stringer, Jr informed the council that they hope to restore power and heating soon to the west gym. They also said that there have been a string of break-ins, with some damage done to the building. Police have so far been unsuccessful in stopping these acts.